Full fibre for a digital and sustainable Europe

Vienna is a city with a very high quality of life, a feature that is highly appreciated by the many visitors who come to the Austrian capital. And for three days, it is playing host to FTTH 2022, a major industry conference with a mission to advance ubiquitous full fibre-based connectivity to the whole of Europe. The three-day conference and exhibition is taking place at the impressive Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center in Vienna, Austria.

Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center, Vienna, Austria.

Released from the restrictions of Covid, this year the industry is welcoming the opportunity to meet physically again.

Targeting over 3,500 participants from 1,000 companies and over 100 countries, the FTTH Conference is the largest meeting place in the world for broadband stakeholders., all taking the opportunity to participate in the world’s leading fibre conference & networking hub with the chance to meet hundreds of delegates, exhibitors and partners, and showcase the latest FTTH product & service technology solutions and industry trends.

Prominent amongst the companies present is the Chinese multinational telecommunications equipment and systems company ZTE.

Their impressive offering includes the prototype of the first Optical Network Unit (ONU) in the industry to support both 50-Gigabit-Capable Passive Optical Networking (50G PON) and Wi-Fi 7 technologies.

Peng Aiguang, President of Europe and Americas for ZTE, told EU Reporter “ZTE has moved from being a challenger to a market leader by increasing spending year on year on Research & Development.”

“We are pleased that ZTE is seen as a trusted partner and equipment supplier to telecom networks throughout Europe and the rest of the world”

Peng Aiguang, President of Europe and Americas for ZTE

“Our goal is to build a reputation based on ZTE's core values. The participation of European stakeholders and the success of today's event shows that the work we are doing is bearing fruits.”

“Unlike rival companies, ZTE has built a “European Model” of operations, with over 3000 European employees and entrusting Europeans with the highest levels of management authority.”

Christian Woschitz was formerly manager for ZTE’s Austrian region which included 5 eastern European countries. His recent appointment as President of Central Eastern Europe now sees him managing 19 countries which are fragmented into 3 different regions.

We asked him what primary goals had he set on his agenda for business development in Central Eastern Europe?

Christian Woschitz, President of Central Eastern Europe for ZTE

“Our objective for the upcoming period is to enhance our existing partnerships in infrastructure and consumer device business. Due to the pandemic, the global demand for the digitalization of society and enterprises increased rapidly. As a basis for this, it will be very important that the operators ensure broadband connectivity and sufficient capacity for their consumers or business customers. ZTE with its leading-edge technology especially in the field of 5G and fibre-optic networks will be a reliable partner to deliver the required infrastructure.

As ZTE we see a big potential in the CEE region, especially the fragmented market with a lot of small countries, and different languages that need a flexible and reliable technology partner like us.

ZTE is a fast-growing company in the CEE region and we strongly focus to build up more trustful and long-term partnerships with tier 1 customers. Form technology perspective still the biggest potential for business development I see in the field of 5G, FTTH, multimedia and consumer device like CPE, router, AP/mesh and smartphones.”

Christian Woschitz (centre) speaks with Thomas Arnolder, CEO A1 Telekom Austria Group (right)

Despite his recent appointment, he continues to be CEO ZTE Austria. Is ZTE’s Austrian business considered central in Europe?

“For ZTE the Austrian market has a very long and successful history, in the year 2009 Hutchison Drei Austria awarded ZTE for countrywide radio and core network modernization. This has been the first full-turn-key project in Europe with a considerable size. From this perspective, we could say that our roots in Europe are deeply connected with the Austrian market.

Since last year Vienna became now the hub for the CEE region and I have located all my regional platform staff in Austria. The learnings out of the Austrian market shall become a best practice model for the CEE region, so if we consider that our telco market share in Austria is actually around 1/3, it gives us a very ambitious target for the region.

In telecommunication, Austria is one of the most competitive countries in Europe. Since ZTE entered the market in 2010 by modernising within the shortest time the complete network of Hutchison Drei Austria, the race for the best coverage, quality and user experience started. As well due to the fact that the Austrian government ensured a very solid base for investments with the telecom act 2020, the strong competition continues with 5G. Currently, Austrian telecom operators investing yearly 700m EUR for the 5G rollout. This massive investment ensured that actually, around 80% of the population can already enjoy 5G services.

Therefore, in the CEE region, Austria is currently the most advanced country in terms of 5G population coverage. However, we can as well see a fast 5G deployment program in Czech, Hungary, Bulgaria and Croatia. But there are as well several countries like Serbia and Romania where the 5G license has not been auctioned so far.

What we can see is that the current main motivation for 5G is still to provide sufficient broadband capacity to the end consumer. This gives an explanation why in Austria it is much faster than for example in Romania. Austria has 200k active fibre subscribers, Romania has 6.5m.

So how does he see the evolution of fibre in Europe?

“Fibre services can bring significant value and benefit to the EU in the digital transformation. This needs to be capable of meeting the needs of a comprehensive Digital EU strategy, as we begin the migration from the legacy copper-based broadband services, to a new high-speed fibre-based broadband services infrastructure.

ZTE has continuously cooperated with EU operators as a leading PON solution and Video E2E provider. For example, we have carried out in Austria, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Romania, Czech Rep., and Greece, to construct fibre-based network evolution.

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